Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among North American women – and the key to successful treatment is early detection.

An estimated 7,300 Canadian women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer in Canada each year, and more than 1,200 will die from the disease.

Ovarian cancer is less common but more lethal, affecting more than 2,800 women and killing about 1,800 in Canada annually.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often very subtle to non-existent until it is at an advanced stage.

Now the MUHC's Detecting Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer Early project, headed by Dr. Lucy Gilbert is working to change that.

The hospital centre has announced an advanced pap test that promises to revolutionize the way this cancer is diagnosed: at an earlier stage.

Cancer survivor Joanne Photiades said she was referred to Dr. Gilbert eventually but it took a lot to get there because of the subtlety of the symptoms, which included irregular periods, sharp pain in the abdomen, fatigue and bloating.

“I would Google all of these symptoms together and it would always bring me back to ovarian cancer,” she said.

Photiades said she went to a doctor who dismissed her symptoms, but she advocated for herself, listened to her body and she said she wants everyone to know that they should do the same.